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Lombardia’08: Explained In Italian
Race Preview: The evening in Como is quiet and warm. But it’s one of the last. You know the days will soon become chilly and the cycling season will be done. You try to enjoy every minute, every second. It’s not important if the major protagonists are out of the games. It’s not important if since Sanremo seven months have gone; still there is Lombardia and this is enough.

The race of the dead leaves, the race of the lake, the race of Coppi who won it five times, the race of the haze, the race of the Ghisallo climb, the race of the small chapel on the top. We Italians like to emphasize everything as we really live a storm inside. There’s no reason for it, and it’s difficult to communicate the storm of feelings we meet for these kind of races.

The Lombardia, as the Sanremo are something more, something above the sport. They’re probably not so followed as Flanders is for the Belgians, but these races give exactly the time of the changes. With Sanremo starts the good weather. At Lombardia, we prepare for the winter. So, when you are in Como and the announcer calls the last kilometres of the race, you feel sure that every second is so important because in a short while everything will be finished.

At Lombardia after the race, everybody has to run. The riders run away, the journalists follow them, the spectators leave and everybody looks so busy to find the fastest way to exit. Than you listen the riders talking about vacations and you realize it’s really gone.

Above Como, above the lake, the woods are red and yellow, the lake is blue and more blue during the windy days. Above Como the lighthouse of Brunate stands and waits the darkness of the evening.

The press room, located inside a beautiful, ancient villa becomes desert very fast; just a few minutes after the winner’s press conference. There are no more words, no more expectation for the next event. This contrasts a lot with the race. That is fast. Hard. And exciting.

This race is run all around the lake and last year I had many difficulties to drive in front of it. The bunch, during the first hour is able to ride almost 50 km through small roads all through villages, houses and villas. The cars in front of the race have to do the same but their response to the narrow and sudden bends is different. But at Argegno this finishes as the race finds the first climb leading to the Lugano lake, just beside Lago di Como. But the real race doesn’t start until Lecco. At that passage all the favourites’ teams force their pace to get their leaders in front for the Ghisallo climb.

The Ghisallo is hard. It’s long. One of the longest in a one day race. On the top the main contenders must be there. Who’s not cannot win. The following descent is easy and helps the pursuers but when they arrive at the Civiglio climb again the race splits into different groups.

No more time then for remedies. The Civiglio descent is crazy. At any turn you can see Como’s roofs behind you, and if you lose control you can really crash land on them. The Como crossing is fast and nervous and the last climb, San Fermo della Battaglia, is inside the city. Once you’re over there you can reach the finish as Cunego and Riccт have done last year. It’s exciting, it’s fast, it’s complicated. That’s the reason why the quietness of the after race is more and more difficult to accept.

You would like to live it again. But nobody listens to your desires and while you leave the city you finally start to think that maybe it’s the time to make some order of your files, to your pics done all over the season. At the end, it’s just a race, there’s nothing so serious.

But then, before finding the highway home, you drive again to the top of the San Fermo for one last look. It’s Como, it’s Lombardia… hard to explain.


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